Insect inspired fashion

Jun 27, 2014


Time for confession: I’m a female missing the fashion gene. While I love art and creativity, I prefer wearing jeans and  t-shirts. Ironically, I sometimes watch What Not to Wear. I’m pretty sure I’d drive Stacy and Clinton insane because I often don’t like the designs and patterns they convince the person-in-need- of-improvement to select. While I may not like the colors and configurations these style mavens promote, I do love beautifully designed insects.

Since I began lugging a camera everywhere I go, I’m on the lookout for photographic subjects. I’ve snapped pics of squirrels and bunnies  on morning walks until I have a full folder. I wanted something different--something fun to manipulate with editing software.

My mom always said be careful what you ask for, which might be true in this case. I began noticing bugs--not just common creatures, but fantastic special-effects quality insects.  Not only did I spy them, but they let me take photos from various angles so I could play with their appearance using software. 

Squirrels and bunnies are cute, but it’s hard to do something unique with their likeness. They’re good for an awe, and that’s about it. Bugs, on the other hand, have interesting parts.  Sometimes their wings elements rival stained or leaded glass windows in the most majestic cathedrals of Europe.  Their mouths and antennae are complex enough to crop into an interesting composition revealing only that body part.

After paying closer attention to these overlooked critters that dominate my planet, I’m certain their coloration and design configurations would delight the WNTW duo. Stacy and Clinton would be over the moon when they saw the striking black on white of a cottonwood borer. If they looked at this creature under a microscope to note the white was actually fine hair, they’d want to reproduce the positive/negative relationship and the texture into  a garment to adorn one of their clients.  I can see Stacy wanting to capture the sheen of the legs and antenna in a stylish handbag or fashion boot.

Dragonflies would also inspire creativity in New York’s garment district.  First, using the array of jewel-tones on these insects would brighten clothing racks in every national clothing chain. Even I would buy dragonfly blue  or ruby t-shirts to top my denims. Recently, a coral, cream, and brown species skimmed ahead of me while I ambled about. As I watched it dance lightly above waving brome grass, I imagined buying sheets and a comforter capturing those warm colors.

A cicada is not as delicate or lovely as a dragonfly, but it’s worth examining. With my naked eye, I saw only a body of dull green and black. However, enlarged by editing software, it’s intricate wings look like a miniature lead glass artist pieced them into a whole. After I got home and magnified my picture, hints of crimson, topaz, emerald, and sapphire emerged, making a bejeweled Hollywood monster.  The wings were exquisitely Tiffany. A fashion designer might become famous recreating the hidden components in this summer singer’s exoskeleton.

I’ve seen fabric imprints that look like a zebra, leopard, or giraffe. I’ve seen shower curtains and blouses with actual dragonfly shapes incorporated into the design. I challenge haute couture to examine insects under magnification and reproduce those designs. I bet they could make not only the staff of What Not to Wear do a happy dance, but also me.  My t-shirt collection would take on the hues of pirate treasure.